The White House announced Thursday a brave Army captain who survived attacks by two suicide bombers moments apart and was badly wounded as he saved his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor. On Nov. 12 President Barack Obama will award (Ret.) Army Capt. Florent Groberg the honor for what the White House called “his selfless service” during a deadly attack in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in August 2012.
According to a story about the incident on the U.S. Army’s official homepage Groberg and five other soldiers were providing a security detail for senior U.S. military leaders as they were heading down a street toward the provincial governor’s compound when an ambush started to unfold.
32 year old Groberg said “A man came out of a building to our left walking backwards. It was eerie and looked suspicious. I yelled at him and he turned around immediately and then started walking towards us. He looked like a young man with a beard, wearing man-jams and dark clothing. He didn’t appear to be himself that day … most likely drugged.”
After noticing a bulge under the man’s clothing, Groberg and his platoon sergeant rushed the man. Groberg recalled in the story by the Army News Service “Sgt. Mahoney to my left moved in with me and struck him, then Mahoney and I threw him. I pushed him as hard as I could away from our patrol, because I felt he was a threat. I just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
Just moments later, the suspicious man detonated a suicide bomb that knocked Groberg 5 feet, seriously injuring him. Then a second suicide bomber appeared and blew himself up, killing five of Groberg’s fellow soldiers as well.
Groberg, who was on his second tour in Afghanistan, told the paper “I couldn’t remember what happened. I thought I had stepped on an IED [improvised explosive device]. My fibia was sticking out of my left leg, my skin was melting, and there was blood everywhere. I checked myself for internal injuries and started to drag myself out of what was probably a kill zone for small-arms fire.”
Groberg attempted to continue leading his troops however he was in serious need of medical attention and was put into in an armored truck. He told the Army News Service “That’s when all the pain came in. It felt like a blow torch was burning through my leg. Aug. 8, 2012, was not a bad day; it was the worst day of my life.”
Groberg, who grew up in Maryland, spent almost three years recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before medically retiring in July. He required 33 surgeries in order to keep his badly injured leg.
Groberg will be the 10th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military honor and is given for “meritorious conduct [that] must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life.”
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